Hot on the heels of its worst first quarter results in nearly a decade, Ashok Leyland, on Tuesday, unveiled its latest shot at reversing the flagging fortunes of the commercial vehicles industry, the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) Stile.
Set to hit the roads before the festival season, Stile, which was developed by the Ashok Leyland-Nissan Motor Company joint venture, will roll out from Nissan’s plant at Oragadam near here.
“We are systematically filling in the right slots of our fast growing light commercial vehicles business. This is the second baby from our joint venture… the first was the Dost. Despite the current downtrend, we are still bullish about commercial vehicle growth and demand,” said V. Sumantran, Chairman, Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain Ltd., while addressing reporters here on Tuesday.
“We remain confident as ever for the need for mobility. We are staying on course for our range of products,” he added, without divulging details on sales targets, pricing strategies or whether exports would be immediately looked at.
The Stile, which seats 7-8 people, is mainly positioned to handle demand from the commercial space in the form of hotel shuttles, taxi services, panel vans, courier services and inter-city travel.
According to Dheeraj G. Hinduja, Chairman, Ashok Leyland, there are more product offerings in the offing, mainly aimed at capturing the light commercial vehicle segment.
“We identified the need for a modern, efficient people-mover. The light commercial vehicle segment constitutes nearly 55 per cent of the commercial vehicle industry. After Stile we have the Partner and so on,” said Dheeraj Hinduja.
Responding to a range of queries, Mr. Sumantran dismissed suggestions that the Ashok Leyland-Nissan joint venture’s practice of ‘sister-brother vehicles on the same platform’ would result in cannibalisation of both offerings.
“People will not get confused between the Stile and Nissan’s Evalia. They cater to two very different customer segments and we make sure it stays that way,” he said.
Talking about the joint venture’s decision to eventually start a greenfield project for manufacturing vehicles, Mr. Sumantran said that it was still on the cards.